How bad are these signals coming from my wife?

by Joe

I’d been going along feeling like our relationship was pretty good. I thought we had a strong connection when we could get away and when we do things together. I craved being with her whether watching a show, hiking, shopping, dining, vacationing, everything. We've been married 30 years. She has a great sense of humor and we'd laugh and snuggle frequently.

A day after we very pleasantly went hiking in the snow we were shopping and she very sincerely said that I must not love her as much as our friend loves his new wife because they’re in Hawaii again. I felt gutted. My wife's better looking than me, more fit, smarter, more fashionable, more beloved by friends and family. I saw contempt in her face.

The next day we went on a walk and I brought up my feelings that if she believed she could escape to someone else with more money and infatuation, she would go. Rather than deny that she said, "No one would take me."

She said she’s jealous of people who have regular exotic vacations, have nice houses, buy nice things. But also she is jealous of people with new relationships where the man devotes himself to the woman's happiness at any expense and is uncontrollably excited to run to be with her. Several times she asked the question, “How do people just start over with someone new?”

I discovered that though she likes most of my Instagram posts she hasn’t liked a specific few. The pattern I saw
is she didn’t like posts where either she doesn’t think her picture is flattering or any post directly referencing our marriage relationship. She didn’t like last year's anniversary dinner even though she commented on it. She didn’t like a post about being grateful for “marital relations”. She didn’t like my post about our stay at a fancy hotel for our engagement anniversary. Or mothers day, or valentines day, or previous engagement anniversaries.

I checked our text message history and found I said I love you 58 times in past 2 years. She said it back 17 times. 5 of those times were in direct response to me fixing something around the house. She said “fixit man is sexy”. How many faucets can I fix? Even in conversations she rarely says the word "love" to me.

She has consistently not been wearing her wedding rings the past 2 years. She used to remove them when hiking and such, but now she rarely wears them. I think she wore them maybe 6 days in 2 years. I watched her get ready and grab her "salty" bracelet right where she keeps her rings.

When my kids said something about a girl being interested in me, she quickly responded, “She can have you. Seriously.”

She has a music playlist dominated by breakup recovery music. She has been playing the song “No Tell Lover” frequently.

Are these genuine signals? How bad does this sound? I have started to prioritize her and improve my attention to her, what else should I do?

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Eugene Kayser, MA, MFT's profile on the Gottman Referral Network